UCLA grad wins Nobel Prize in chemistry

A UCLA graduate was named today a winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Richard Heck, who graduated from UCLA in 1952 and received his doctorate from the university in 1954, won the prize along with two Japanese scientists, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki.

The trio were honored for developing a process of linking carbon molecules, called "palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling.'' The method is used in the production of medicines and molecules used in the electronics industry.

"This chemical tool has vastly improved the possibilities for chemists to create sophisticated chemicals, for example, carbon-based molecules as complex as those created by nature itself,'' according to the Royal Swedish Academy.

Heck, 79, is a professor emeritus at the University of Delaware and lives in the Philippines, according to UCLA.

Last year, UCLA alum Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Other Bruin graduates to win Nobel Prizes are:


  • William Sharpe, economics, 1990;
  • Bruce Merrifield, chemistry, 1984;
  • Glenn Seaborg, chemistry, 1951; and
  • Ralph Bunche, peace, 1950.

Five UCLA faculty members have also won Nobel Prizes:


  • Louis Ignarro, physiology or medicine, 1998;
  • Paul Boyer, chemistry, 1997;
  • Donald Cram, chemistry, 1987;
  • Julian Schwinger, physics, 1965; and
  • Willard Libby, chemistry, 1960.
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